"Godfather of Craft Beer" brews his first Florida beer — in Lakeland

The new Alcatraz Brewing tapped Don Barkley to spearhead its 2X IPA.

click to enlarge Celebrated California brewer Don Barkley brewed Alcatraz Brewing's inaugural batch of 2X IPA. - Courtesy of Alcatraz Brewing
Courtesy of Alcatraz Brewing
Celebrated California brewer Don Barkley brewed Alcatraz Brewing's inaugural batch of 2X IPA.

One of America’s craft beer pioneers has used his 40 years of expertise to brew a beer in Florida for the first time — in collaboration with a new Lakeland brewery. Yup, Alcatraz Brewing founder Steve Morgan tapped Don Barkley, a celebrated California brewer widely known as the “Godfather of Craft Beer,” to spearhead its inaugural batch of 2X IPA.

Central Floridians can get a taste of the beer — which is 8 percent alcohol by volume and made with classic American hops like Cascade and Willamette — at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, Total Wine & More, World of Beer and The Brass Tap.

Tampa Bay folks, however, can only score 2X IPA from ABC. At the moment, Morgan is looking for broader distribution in the area.

“I love the beer, I love the concept, and I dig being able to experience the rapidly growing craft beer scene here in Florida,” said Barkley, who’s been brewing longer than Sierra Nevada and Samuel Adams have been around, in a statement. “It only makes sense for someone who’s lived his whole life in the Golden State to want to branch out to the Sunshine State, right?”

click to enlarge The beer is now available in cans. - Courtesy of Alcatraz Brewing
Courtesy of Alcatraz Brewing
The beer is now available in cans.

According to Barkley, he and Morgan have known each other for many years, both personally and professionally. 2X IPA was the perfect opportunity for them to join forces — and a timely one, since Morgan’s Alcatraz Brewing, which brews at Brew Hub, is a recently launched addition to the local beer scene.

“After searching the country for the best brewing facility, we chose Brew Hub,” Morgan told CL. “Great team, new and extensive equipment, extremely clean, and in one of if not the fastest growing craft beer markets now.”

Morgan — who swam, sailed, lifeguarded and played water polo in college while growing up around the water — branched out on his own to start Alcatraz Brewing after running other people’s breweries for a decade. Now a full-time Florida resident, he continues to play water polo with a master’s group in Daytona Beach and also competes in open-water swims like the Sharkfest Swim from the legendary Alcatraz Island to San Francisco.

That’s where Alcatraz Brewing gets its name and passion for protecting the state’s coastal waters from. Fittingly, the brewery plans to support Florida waterkeeper groups, including Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, throughout the year.

Morgan says that Barkley will continue to brew for Alcatraz Brewing and represent the brand. He’s working on his next trip to the Sunshine State, as their next brew day is scheduled for early May.

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